Can't Get My Gas furnace to Ignite


Old 12-22-05, 07:20 PM
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Unhappy Can't Get My Gas furnace to Ignite

We first started having problems with our Luxaire gas furnace (of course) on the first cold night of the year. When the furnace would click on, we could hear it start up, but eventually it would shut back off and no hot air would come out of the vents. We called a service company, and they came out and replaced the igniter and all seemed to be OK.

About a week later, we had the same problem. A different technician came out, took a look, and said that the problem wasn't our igniter, but rather was the pressure of the gas coming into the furnace.

According to him, this part of our city (Harrisburg PA) is on a low-pressure main and as demand increases, the gas pressure decreases, occasionally to the point where it's too low to open the valve in the furnace. When this happens, the furnace tries three times to light and then shuts off as a safety measure.

He seemed very sure of this explanation. He installed a different valve which he said would operate at a lower pressure than the previous one, but said that ultimately, there might not be anything that could be done. He said the main problem was with the gas company (UGI) and the fact that they're more concerned about bringing on new customers than making sure the customers they have have adequate gas delivery. He also said that this is only a problem with newer, "high-efficiency" furnaces.

The only way to get the furnace going is to go down to the basement and cycle the power to it so it can try to ignite again. Eventually, the gas will be of an adequate pressure and the furnace will come on. That happened last night, and it turned on after three resets, but tonight I've been down here for about two hours with no luck as the house gets colder & colder.

I have calls in to the gas company, and a different service company to get a second opinion, but I wanted to see if anyone here had any insight.

Basically, my first question is, is this guy full of it? It sounds a little bit outlandish that we might not actually be able to get adequate gas from the gas company. Then again, our symptoms do match his description, and I'm not naive about the possibility that a utility company might be less than sympathetic to our plight.

Second, if what he says is true, am I just screwed? It seems to me the only way to truly solve the problem would be to remove this five-year old furnace and install a new (electric) one. That's something I will do if necessary, but obviously if there's a way to avoid paying thousands of dollars I'm all for it.

So. Any thoughts? Suggestions? Commiserations? Anything at all would be appreciated. I'll check back in the morning, or feel free to email me. For now, I guess it's time to put on another sweater and go to bed...
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Old 12-22-05, 07:39 PM
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This Tech sounds awful sure of himself. It would be tragic if he was right. Yours cannot be the only furnace of this type in the neighborhood. Are others experiencing the same? Somewhere in your manual or on the label inside the furnace you will find the minimum inlet gas pressure for your furnace. Have your new tech check it, then if there is a problem, call the gas company. Good luck
Old 12-22-05, 07:39 PM
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Low gas pressure

Did the guy who claimed low gas pressure actually measure it? I find it hard to believe the pressure would be that low. The valve operates electricly & should not care if the pressure is low. It may be too low to fire (I doubt that) but the valve should open. Sorry I don't buy it.
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